Hello, everyone and welcome to our Monday Minute.

Today we’re going to talk about some things specifically related to the CAHPS Hospice Survey process. The CAHPS Hospice Survey is basically a care experience survey that is sent to family members of patients who have been enrolled in hospice. The hospice itself must have at least 50 patients in any given year to be required to participate in the CAHPS Hospice Survey process. If you are exempt, meaning you’re small enough that you are not required to participate, you do have to complete an exemption form each year. So, make sure that you don’t miss that deadline.

Regarding the survey itself, they are now publicly reporting on the Care Compare site the results of the CAHPS Hospice Surveys. Those surveys contain 47 questions that are sent out to hospice patients’ family members to complete regarding the experience of care while the patients are on hospice. Those 47 questions can be a bit overwhelming. It is crazy that we have 47 questions. One of the questions that I ask hospices a lot is, do you know for sure that your field staff, as they are going to the home to see these patients, do they know the questions? Do they understand the questions? And most importantly, do they understand the impact of the survey results? Many times, hospices say, “we’ve never gone through this questionnaire with them. They’re not the ones that give it to the patient. Right?” I get that. But the reality is the results of your care experience surveys are how the family members perceived, accepted, and experienced the care that your field staff provided. It is imperative that your field staff understand the questions that are being asked of those family members so that they understand how they can positively impact the results.

I just want to give you one example that is one of the outcome measures that come from the CAHPS Hospice Survey, and that is Communication with Family. This outcome measure includes multiple of those 47 questions that are on the questionnaire. One of those is that the hospice field staff kept the patient and family informed about when they would arrive to provide their care. That one can be a stickler, meaning you tell a patient that you are going to be there at 1:00 and you don’t show up until 3:00. It is not okay that we’re not informing the patient that we’re going to be late. That alone, especially if it happens multiple times with the same patient, is going to negatively impact the results of the survey. While we know things happen, it is only common courtesy that you let them know that you’re going to be late, something as simple as that.

Also, what needs to be included in the communication with the family is that you kept them informed about the family member’s condition, meaning you kept them updated on the status of the patient’s situation, the change that the patient is experiencing, any decline that might be involved, and that you listened to them carefully. While I understand that you are in the home and that you heard what a family member said, did the family member understand that you were truly listening to them?

Obviously, a lot of this is subjective, I understand that, but my point today to drive home to you, as the hospice provider, is that if your staff doesn’t understand what the questions are that are being asked, how can they impact? We strongly suggest that you have in-services with your staff members who are treating, talking, and communicating with patients, even from your office, and that you take these measures individually during in-services, and go through the specific questions that impact that outcome measure. Have those conversations and help them think about how they can positively impact those results. It is very important that we stay on top of the results of these CAHPS Hospice Surveys and the experiences that our patients, their family members, and caregivers are having during the time their family members are in hospice care.

If you need any assistance or have specific questions about CAHPS Hospice Survey, we’re going to include a link to that information and we at HPS would be happy to answer any questions that you might have as well.

Thank you all for participating and for taking care of patients during this very important time while we continue this extended Public Health Emergency. Please stay tuned to your state and national home care and hospice associations, and I hope very much that we get to see each other at a live conference this summer or fall. Have a great week.